It's been another tough week personally and professionally. Traffic during my commute was horrendous and drivers were rude, work was challenging and disappointing, and my personal life took a nosedive as well.
I wanted to stand on the street corner and scream, "Why? Where is the peace you promised? Where is the justice?"
As expected, God answered.
First, I read a quote by J.C. Ryle: "Better to confess to Christ a thousand times now than be disowned by Christ before God on judgment day."
It seemed irrelevant to my situation. I wasn't a prophet or a martyr for my faith. I may not be the most popular co-worker or member of my family, but I did not feel persecuted. Yet, it was there.
My faith kept me from fitting in. I did not have the same interests or beliefs of most my contemporaries. I wasn't interested in the newest clothing fashions, or the cutest shoes. It wasn't any of my business what this or that music or movie star was doing, unless it was something philanthropic. I didn't watch any of the TV programs that had viewers in an uproar. Those choices put me on the outside and some even chose to avoid me. That hurt, especially when that person was someone close, like family or those I thought were friends.
My morning devotions included Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14: "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. I believe to see the good things of the lord in the land of the living. Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage and wait thou for the Lord."
The second listed reading was from John 6:1-15, the feeding of the five thousand.
God was again telling me not to be afraid, and reminding me He would bless me with good things while still upon this earth. He would feed me, clothe me and give me all I required to stay alive until the day He called me home, in spite of hurts and injustices.I understood, but couldn't quite let go of my desire for things to be different.
God drove His point home that evening. My husband chose a movie, Me Again. The story revolves around a pastor who felt disgruntled and unsatisfied with his life. He decided his life would be better, more satisfying if he had chosen a different path. He wanted to be someone else.
No surprise God granted him that wish, several times, until the man begged to be himself. The message echoed in my own heart as I thought how I judged others happier, luckier and better off than me. At the end, the man realized happiness was a choice.
The final poke happened while reading, Living Faith. The meditation centered on the martyrdom of St. Stephen. As he lay down his life, he asked God to forgive his murderers. I had read that scripture numerous times, but this author went a bit further with her analysis.
She pointed out how we harden our hearts through unhealed wounds of the past and add more layers of stone and mortar with every judgment we make. The rude driver that cut me off last night, the one that used the right turn lane to skip ahead and then cut in front of me. And little things we allow to accumulate, such as the injustice of always being the first one up to make coffee and prepare for the workday, while my husband gets to linger under the covers a bit longer. We keep adding to these injuries until our heart is indeed a millstone around our necks. Then something else happened.
I took a walk last evening along the greenbelt next to our house. At first it seemed a little too cool for an evening walk, but I was angry and needed to burn off some of the heat. I set off at a fast pace, but once I stepped onto the path, my heart lost it's anger.
The world had changed in the last few weeks, but I had barely noticed while wrapped in my cloak of despair anger and hurt. Bare trees were now dressed in their spring finery. New leaves sighed in the breeze. Gusts twirled blossoms in showers of fragrant color. Ducks flew overhead, robins sang, and doves cooed. The sky turned red-gold, brushing the clouds in rose. It was magic.
I was no longer an older woman bowed down with all the sorrows of life. I was instead the young girl dreaming of all the possibilities life had to offer. The change wasn't magical. It was a choice. I could chose to look at the world through tired, sorrowful eyes, or chose to see my blessings - and possibilities - even at my age. As long as there is breath, there is hope.